“It’s too darn hot!”

Summer outdoor and science resources for families when the mercury is climbing

By Sandi Funke, Education Director


As she sang, “It’s too darn hot!” How many times have you woken up with the urge to get outdoors in the summer here in Northern California but were faced with the fact that it was already 80 degrees out and it wasn’t even 9:00am! Well, don’t fret. We are very blessed to live in an area that offers a breath of possibilities to get outdoors and explore, as well as learn some science, even when the Fahrenheit is rising. Here are a few of my summertime favorites when it’s sweltering and you need to head to close-by cooler climes.

California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco

Pepperwood has a long history with the Academy. Indeed several of our staff are former employees. As a schoolteacher, I used to bring classes of students to the Academy to explore the exhibits and visit their famous white alligator. Today, I still love to go there with my eight year old to see reptiles, birds, and fish, enjoy the hands-on exhibits, and discover what scientists are learning about our world. If you visit on the weekend, plan on going early as parking can be limited. Also, be aware that Golden Gate Park, where the Academy is located, often has no car days on weekends. You will need to park in the underground structure on those days, so plan accordingly.
Cost: $$$

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

I love old growth redwoods but I’m usually not up for the long drive it takes from Sonoma County to get to see them. As I recently learned, there’s no need! We have amazing redwoods here in Sonoma County. Armstrong Woods is located just outside of Guerneville. This 805-acre park features a magnificent grove of ancient redwoods and a variety of hikes that will take you from ferny redwood groves to oak- and wildflower-studded ridgelines. It’s really a wonderful place. The parking can fill up, so getting there early is a good idea!
Cost: $ (or free if you park in the lot before the kiosk or along the road)

Point Reyes National Seashore

What can I say? Point Reyes National Seashore is a national treasure. With over 71,000 acres of swaying grasslands, rugged beaches, working farms, and forest what more could you ask for? There are a whopping eleven beaches including Limantour, which is my personal favorite, and it is only a 10 minute drive from the town of Point Reyes Station. For those that don’t like the beach, Point Reyes is home to 150 miles of hiking trails and two open visitor centers: Bear Valley and the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse’s visitor center is newly renovated (opened in June) and features a life-size shark replica and exquisite murals portraying the various ocean habitats. It is part of the greater Point Reyes Lighthouse complex. If you have never been to the Lighthouse it is well worth the trip. Just give it plenty of time to get to and from the actual Lighthouse with your children.
Cost: Free – Your tax dollars at work!

Stay cool out there, and we hope to see you in the fall when our classes and SCENIQ program start back up!

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